The 2012 NBA Finals was projected to be the Miami Heat against the Oklahoma City Thunder for quite some time. Virtually every step of the way, from the first tip on Christmas night all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami was the team that was the favorite, and usually the odds on favorite, to make it to a second straight NBA Finals. Oklahoma City was that up and coming team that was right on the verge last year of the Finals, and anything less than a championship this year would probably be looked upon as a disappointment.
That might not be a surprise, but what is a bit shocking is the fact that it is the Thunder that are the -165 favorites on the NBA Finals betting lines in this series and not the Heat.
Of course, those who had blinders on for most of the season would probably think that Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh would make up the best threesome on the court. Last year in the NBA Finals though, the Dallas Mavericks found a way to really frustrate these three stars, and parlayed that with the sharpshooting of Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki, and the outcome was predictable.
This year, we’ll think about it in foresight instead of hindsight. Oklahoma City has three players in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden that actually average almost as many points per game here in the playoffs than the Super Friends in South Beach. Beyond that, the next best players on Miami are Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, and Mike Miller. Meanwhile, the next five for the Thunder are Serge Ibaka, Derek Fisher, Thabo Sefolosha, and Kendrick Perkins. Which squad would you rather have?
There’s almost something to really be said about the fact that what these two have done in the postseason really isn’t all that comparable. Miami took care of the New York Knicks in the first round, had its struggles with the Indiana Pacers in the second round, and then needed the distance to knock off the Boston Celtics in the conference finals. All told, the Heat have played 18 games thus far. The Thunder? Just 15. They swept the defending champs from Dallas, blasted past the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, and then took out the San Antonio Spurs. The last series came after San Antonio opened up a 2-0 series lead. Not only did Oklahoma City beat the Spurs to end that skid, but from that point on, it dominated the series and ended up winning in just six games.
This year, these two teams hooked up in NBA betting action twice, with the home team winning and covering both games. If that trend holds, the Thunder will have the upper hand, playing Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
This is the first time that the Thunder have played in the NBA Finals in this form. They did make it to the Promised Land once in 1996 as the Seattle Supersonics, but that team was never the favorite to win it all. This one has the upper hand and has home court advantage in the series.
The Heat are playing under the pressure of protecting the job for Head Coach Erik Spoelstra, who really might be in some danger if this is the second straight year that his team gets knocked out of the playoffs in the NBA Finals, thus ending without a championship.
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